Tips for Boosting Workplace Interdepartmental Collaboration
Provided to OSAP from author Dean Burgess
Most companies have multiple departments, overseeing everything from finance to marketing, sales, customer care and more. Although each department may be its own unique entity, it's helpful if these groups can communicate and collaborate together. Good teamwork helps address bottlenecks and improve efficiency and creates a more pleasant working environment for all involved. This is no different for organizations.
Try these tips from the Ohio Society of Association Professionals( OSAP) to improve interdepartmental collaboration in your workplace.
Use Tech to Enhance Collaboration and Communication
The right tools can make it easier to join forces across departments. For example, you want to ensure seamless communication between teams - even if they aren't sitting in the same space. Online communication tools make it easier. Examples include Workmates, Wrike, Workvivo and Troop Messenger. Make sure to clarify a central mode of communication and ensure everyone has access to the same tools.
A comprehensive project management software is another technology that can streamline interdepartmental communication. With a single tool, you can track assignments and deadlines, seeing exactly who is responsible for what tasks by when. Many project management tools also have built-in chat functionality. Hive has a list of project management tools worth exploring, from Trello to Asana.
You can also use project scope management to improve collaboration. Project scope management involves defining, documenting and controlling the boundaries and deliverables of a project to ensure that it is completed on time, within budget and to shareholders' satisfaction. It should include objectives, budgets, tasks, outputs and deadlines. When you’re seeking a robust project scope management solution, this page deserves a look.
It can also be helpful to decide on a central tool for storing, managing and sharing documents. First, pick one format for all your documents, like a PDF. A PDF file has benefits like being able to create a password-protected, secure version. Plus, PDFs let you preserve a document's original formatting more easily. You can edit your PDF online using a free editor. Just upload the file, make changes like adding text, highlights and sticky notes; then download it to share it.
Set Strategies for Teamwork Across Departments
Good interdepartmental collaboration requires more than having the right technology. You need to make sure there are clear rules on how to implement these tools. Create a communication guidebook for your employees to consult. HR Cloud offers a guide for creating an employee communication strategy, covering everything from how to assess your current methods to how to implement new ones
Also, consider your business communication processes. A business process management (BPM) framework can be one way to optimize workflows, analyzing systems and people and the way they interact to find optimal solutions for collaboration. By streamlining tedious tasks, you can help everyone work together more efficiently.
Finally, whatever tools and strategies you use, make sure your teams have the knowledge needed to implement them effectively. For example, offering team leaders the training needed to become effective, agile leaders and supporting good team communication can be helpful.
Tackle Weak Spots that Hinder Cross-Team Collaboration
There are many hurdles that can interfere with effective communication. ZoHo outlines some common issues and provides suggestions on how to tackle them. For example, unclear messaging can result in confusion. Providing workers with a framework on what to share and how—for example, by covering the "who, what, when, where and why" points.
If there has been excessive or prolonged frustration between employees, then you may need to address those issues first. The problem may be anger that needs to be resolved. One way to help everyone calm down and focus on their personal and the corporate well-being is to offer meditation sessions or wellness training. Because when your team members are not feeling centered or supported, it will be even harder for them to offer patience and grace to other team members.
In a globalized workforce, language differences can be another barrier. Make sure that you designate a shared workplace language and that employees who struggle with it get the support they need. For example, if you designate English as your office language, you might offer in-house, complimentary English classes for your employees so they can keep up.
For some organizations, small budgets can also be a problem.
If you don't have a lot of money to invest in tools like chat software and project management technology, you might be at a disadvantage. If this applies to you, look for ways to save on the tech you need. For example, you might buy items on Cyber Monday, which is known for tech deals. Other options include using cloud solutions and purchasing refurbed items.
Check in with Your Employees
Employee satisfaction surveys are a valuable tool for measuring the effectiveness of collaboration initiatives. However, by incentivizing these surveys, organizations can increase response rates and gather more accurate data. Providing rewards for completing surveys not only encourages participation but also shows that the organization values employee feedback.
Help Improve Your Team’s Collaboration Efforts
Effective interdepartmental communication offers many benefits, from helping teams communicate better to eliminating process bottlenecks. However, effective communication doesn't happen on its own. By taking steps like implementing tech tools, managing project scope and standardizing your document formatting to PDF, you can ensure success.